Training puts focus on safe sales of alcohol

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Police Department and Martin County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition on Tuesday sponsored a business owner/employee training regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages.

For those not able to attend the first two training sessions on Tuesday, a second will be held 7 p.m. May 20 at the Sherburn Theater.

Captain Eric Tonder of the Fairmont Police Department discussed why the Responsible Beverage Server Training is important for local communities, noting that incidents of underage serving have dropped over the past several years.

“It’s certainly a downward trend,” he said. “I’ve been doing this since 2000, and we used to have seven or eight failures in one round of checks. Now we average around zero or one.

“We really want to emphasize that we’re partners on this, we’re not just out to get people. The RBST is something people really like because they may have never heard anything about it or what the responsibilities and penalties are for these sort of things.”

Tonder noted some of the different aspects of the program.

“We always offer an education component, and we send out notices,” he said. “It’s free training with no cost to attend, we offer it at two different times for scheduling convenience, and we offer it upon request for special events. If we have special events like at the Opera House or the Street Dance we’re happy to come in, especially for those people that don’t regularly serve alcohol.”

As for the course itself, Tonder said the training is pretty thorough, with people often surprised at the depth and breadth of the content.

“We explain how alcohol compliance checks are done, and that we’re not there to trick them,” he said. “It’s a fair check to seek if they’ll check an ID on a young adult between 18 and 19 years old. We also do the component of going over the criminal and civil laws that govern this, and the penalties involved.

“The biggest surprise is a that a lot of people don’t think it’s illegal to over serve somebody. It’s illegal to sell to somebody who’s obviously intoxicated. People jump from bar to bar sometimes, so the last place is sometimes the one that needs to take a stand.”

Tonder said the class also goes over acceptable forms of IDs.

“You can’t just look at the face and date of birth; you need to give the whole thing a scan on what’s really on there and make sure it’s acceptable,” he said. “By state statute, there’s five acceptable forms of IDs for alcohol: A Minnesota ID or driver’s license issued from another U.S. state or Canada, a U.S. passport or foreign passport, tribal IDs, and a U.S. military ID.”

Tonder said it is important that police work with, rather than against, local businesses.

“So we send out a notice of when the training is and that it’s free for anyone in the county,” he said. “We encourage people to attend, especially new employees. We also let give fair notices to Fairmont businesses that within the next 12 months we’ll attempt to do an alcohol compliance check on them.

“We respect what they do, this isn’t an us versus them thing. They provide a valid business and purpose in the community, and we just want to keep people safe.”